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organ meats?

Since coming to chowhound sometime last year, the topic of organ meats has often come up, and I've found the idea more and more intriguing (i.e. "I should try that"). People seem almost orgasmic over the thought of foie gras.

Here's the thing - I've tried and absolutely hate liver (chicken and beef are the only one's I'm aware I've tried), and had chicken gizzards and hearts (both intentionally, to try; and inadvertently, when included in rice dressing or gumbo without my knowing) and hope never to again!

So, given this, should I just rule out organ meats, or are they significantly different in taste/texture among the different organs/animals? Have people who despise liver loved foie gras???

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  1. While I love liver, I can understand why some people don't due to its rather strong flavor. gizzards are pretty mild as innards go... so not sure what to say on that. Is it the mental part of innards that gets to you? If so try to get that out of your mind as if you eat hot dogs you are eating innards. I think in general it is better to try innards at a restaurant first as cooking at home is harder due to odors and the complication of some dishes. I think the Greeks, Italians,then the Chinese prepare the best innards IMO. I am not sure if tongue is concidered an innard, but if so give it a shot. It is among the best. Sweetbreads are also good, but for anything other than diehards they may be hard to take. If you want to dip your toe in the innard pool, try Vietmanese Pho with tripe. The pieces are tiny and tasty and if you don't like it, it probably is in your head. I love the CHinese tripe, but the flavor can be very strong...move up to that. If you do have liver, lamb and calf is milder than full grown animals. Brains are mild...but given what they are, they can be worked up too. For me no innard if off limits although psychologically for some reason kidneys are the hardest to take.

    1. I happen to love offal. Foie gras, of course (although not commonly considered offal), but also chicken livers (believe it or not, Mexican cuisine is an excellent way to try these), sweetbreads, etc. I think the strong flavor is wonderful. Have you tried sweetbreads? They're pretty mild actually, and a textural delight.

      1. I too hate straight liver - beef and chicken both but adore foie gras. It should be said that I also enjoy really good chopped liver of both varieties which, to me, are more of a pate like thing than actual liver. Other than those I do like gizzards if they're cooked long and slow as in a fricasee and I love sweetbreads. Never had the stomach (no pun intended) to go further than those. Oh, accidentally had kidney in England - hated it. Try sweetbreads. I agree with Bostonbob3, very mild and really nice texture.

        Then again, none of this is very healthy so maybe you're best to just continue avoiding? Keep us posted on your decision and results.

        4 Replies
        1. re: laylag

          Ummmm, I think liver is one of the healthiest things you can eat? No?

          I love fried chicken giblets (liver/heart/gizzard). I guess the frying isn't so healthy. I stopped buying whole chickens from Earth Fare because they don't include the giblets.

          I love foie gras and sweetbreads, too. Haven't tried the liver or kidneys of larger animals in a while.

          1. re: uptown jimmy

            liver used to be healthy, because it's full of iron. however, the liver functions as the body's main cleansing organ, "scrubbing" all of the blood that travels through it. thus the liver tries to filter out all toxins, which includes herbicides, pesticides, growth hormones, etc. current industrial farming practices bombard animals with these products. if i buy liver, i buy organic. organ meat is all very high in cholesterol, so should be eaten sparingly.

            1. re: uptown jimmy

              Can animals organ of elimination and discarding toxins be healthy? No.
              Not for consumption.

          2. I love offal but I'm Chinese and we'll eat just about anything. I grew up eating liver, kidneys, tripe and all kinds of strange things I can't find in a store today. I don't cook any of these often because they're not very healthy and DH is still a bit hesitant to dive into a batch of pork kidneys.

            I think a lot of the dislike is purely because of cultural differences - organ meats are regarded as lower in quality than muscle meat. Most of our friends have no hesitation about eating liver pates or chopped chicken liver but if asked will say they don't like liver.

            1. Thanks, all. Interesting feedback.

              It may be gizzards, rather than giblets, that I'm thinking of. Perhaps I'll try each on its own someday.

              As to the psychological aspect... I've put bites into my mouth that I didn't know contained liver and/or gizzards, and either spit them into my napkin or drowned them down with a beverage - it is not just in my head, it's a taste and texture thing. Of course, it's also somewhat in my head, but certainly not entirely!

              With regard to the cultural aspect - I've eaten tongue, and I vaguely recall eating brains (and maybe even liking it) a very long time ago, and I grew up eating all sorts of things that dad had shot, thumped, hooked, or trapped, so I don't think I'm ooked out because of that.

              I'll try sweetbreads and/or foie gras at my next promising opportunity out, and report back on how it goes! :-)